February 8, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Geek Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Return

The cult hit returns to Netflix.

One of, if not the, most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever was the one that revived Mystery Science Theater 3000, a TV show that ran first on local Minnesota television, then on Comedy Central, and finally on Sy-Fy.  The concept was simple:  a guy and two robot puppets watched bad movies and cracked wise the whole time as part of a nasty experiment dreamed up by some evil scientists.

The plot doesn’t matter so much as the wisecracks made during the movie.

So, now that the new season has premiered on Netflix, how was it?

Well, for a show with a simple concept, it could be easy to screw up.

Fortunately for the fans, particularly those that paid to bring the show back, it’s as good as it ever was.  Series creator Joel Hodgson may not be riffing himself, but he’s working behind the scenes on a labor of love, particularly since he was the guy who got the ball rolling with that record-breaking kickstarter.  There’s a whole new cast, a slightly different explanation for why hapless Jonah Heston (comedian Jonah Ray) is stuck watching bad movies for a couple mad scientists, but this time around the show, though still deliberately cheap-looking, seems to have a budget as the Mads have a live band, and the scheme has less to do with world domination as much as it is using nostalgia for an old property to drive up TV ratings.

And sure, there is some sort of meta plot running through the fourteen episode run, but that doesn’t amount to much more than some added silliness.  The riffing is as good as it’s ever been, and the silhouettes of Jonah, Crow, and Tom Servo work to create more humor by playing off the screen in a manner Hodgson used to as host (but when the robots were more limited in their movements), but that second host Mike Nelson rarely did.  Heck, Gypsy pops in to make a crack twice an episode.  I felt the series got better as it went along and the new hosts settled into their roles.

Plus, hey, Geek Guest Stars like Neil Patrick Harris, Mark Hamill, Will Wheaton, and, for some reason, Jerry Seinfeld pop in, as do a few former cast members.  MST3K has continuity now?

Whatever.  I had fun.  Nine out of ten not so distant futures.

Besides, they mocked a movie I saw once as a kid when my mom was working her way through nursing school by working part time at an independent video store and she used to bring us home the unrented videos.  Somehow, I knew even then that Wizards of the Lost Kingdom was terrible.

%d bloggers like this: